Inexpensive things to do during February school vacation

Fill winter's last school vacation week with free (and almost free) fun

Winter school vacation week for most New Hampshire schools bridges the last few days of February and the first days of March. This is the time of year when the winter blahs tend to peak, so why not make vacation week do double duty? Check out this roundup of kid-friendly vacation week events that can help cure even the toughest case of cabin fever.

As vacation week starts, so do the outdoor celebrations and winter carnivals In Merrimack, head to Wasserman Park Winter Carnival on Saturday, February 25, 2017 from noon to 3 p.m. for a fun-filled day of snowman building, snow art, games and crafts, and an ice fishing derby. Admission is free.

Heading up north? Another free celebration taking place on Saturday, February 25, 2017 is the 19th annual Colebrook Kiwanis Winter Carnival. Held at the Colebrook Country Club, highlights of planned events include a cardboard box sledding derby for kids (prizes awarded by age category) and pancake breakfast.

If you find yourself in the Lakes Region, make your way to the Wolfeboro Winter Carnival, a multi-day bash that celebrates all things ice and snow. On Saturday, February 25, 2017 and from March 1-4, 2017 scheduled events include free ice skating, snowshoeing workshop, sleigh rides, animal tracking, primitive fire building, inflatable obstacle course competition, as well as ski and snowboard races.

A day at the museum can shake you free from your winter doldrums. At the Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, families can take a look at artistic masterpieces then have fun making their own in the museum’s Discovery Gallery. As a special incentive, the museum offers a flat rate admission of $5 during vacation week Monday, February 27 to Friday, March 3, 2017 (please note that the museum is closed Tuesday).

In Milford, families are invited to attend two vacation week programs. On Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 1 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium, kids and parents are invited to attend SubZero, a hands-on demonstration showcasing the freezing powers of liquid nitrogen. Participants will learn the science of how liquid nitrogen works and see up close how liquid nitrogen can freeze fresh ingredients into ice cream — and then try some samples. After the science lesson, families are invited to stay for a to-be-announced kid-friendly film. On Thursday, March 2, at 10 a.m., come back to Town Hall for Wildlife Encounters and its Faces of Nature interactive animal presentation. Cost for each program is $5 per person (infants and young toddlers admitted free). For more information, call the Milford Recreation Department at 603-249-0625.

For some out-of-this-world excitement, take in a planetarium show at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord. Each weekday during vacation, the center offers special family programs at 11 (The Little Star that Could) and noon (Space School).

For some unplugged family fun, the Manchester City Library invites kids and parents to drop by the Children’s Room on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 for Family Game Night. From 5:30 - 8 p.m., try different board games and puzzles, then browse the stacks for some good books to bring home.

Or how about learn a new sport? On Thursday, March 2, 2017 the Holderness Recreation Department invites kids ages 7 and older and adults to try out the quirky new sport of Knockerball. The sport is played like soccer, but players are encased in what look like giant inflatable beach balls (you have to see it to believe it). If you and your kids are interested in “bubble soccer,” call the Recreation Department at 968-3700 or email to register. Cost is $12 per participant; space is limited.

 For a more low-key sports experience, Laconia offers open gym times throughout the week at local public school gyms with special drop-in basketball games for middle- and high-schoolers, and arts-and-crafts activities for younger kids. Also happening in Laconia is a sledding party on Monday afternoon, February 27,2017 and cardboard sled races on Thursday, March 2, 2017 both taking place at the sledding hill located at the end of South Street off Academy Street. Events are free, but registration is required for the sled races. For more information and a detailed open gym schedule, contact the Laconia Parks and Recreation Department at 524-5046.

And of course, what’s winter vacation without skiing. Hit the slopes at King Pine in Madison all week long, or head to the mountain on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 to take part in the ski area’s Silly Slalom and Belly Bag races for kids. Race for fun — and for prizes. If you’ve already put the skis away for the year, check out snow tubing at ski areas like Pat’s Peak in Henniker and slide your way to another fun and memorable winter vacation week. 

Jacqueline Tourville is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives on the Seacoast.

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